Hello there! I know I said that I wanted to be back in the blogging game mid-June and it is now July, but everything has been REALLY busy lately. I feel like I say that all the time now, but it's true!
The good news is that I WILL be blogging more often. I sat myself down and really considered how blogging fits into my life, and I realized that it's something that is really very important to me. That's why I'm working towards making it a priority again, but please be patient with me as I try to get back into the flow of things!
To kick things back into gear, I'm here reviewing THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED.
I love how the cover manages to connect to SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA but still stands apart as its own story. THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED stands alone, but a handful of characters from SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA make cameos in THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED.
(Phew. Typing those long titles out is exhausting! From here on out, I'm calling them SIMON and UPSIDE. Cool? Cool.)
A summary from me:
UPSIDE is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Molly Peskin-Suso (if the last name Suso looks familiar, it's because Abby from SIMON is Molly's cousin!). Molly falls in love often--she's gone through twenty-six crushes--and hard. But despite how much her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to make a move, Molly can't let go of her caution. That's why she's never been kissed, let alone had a boyfriend.
When Cassie falls for a new girl named Mina, Molly begins to feel a chasm opening up between them. She worries about growing apart from her sister, and she can only see one solution: dating Mina's friend, Will. But as much as she keeps pushing herself to fall for Will, she can't let go of her growing feelings for her coworker Reid. But can she manage to put her fear of rejection aside and turn crush twenty-seven into boyfriend one?
And one from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
First and foremost, I really liked the diverse cast in UPSIDE. The world we live in is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, and I thought that UPSIDE did a good job reflecting that.
The writing was also very good. It's similar to the writing style of SIMON, which means that it tends to be rather philosophical without turning pretentious. The dialogue feels real, and the descriptions of the different areas and neighborhoods make you feel like you are there alongside the characters.
Molly was an interesting narrator. I loved her affinity for crafts and small creative touches, and that part of her personality came out in the way she described the world around her. However, I struggled to connect with her obsession with getting kissed. There's no doubt that Molly is more than a little boy-crazy, but her persist narration about romance made it hard for me to sympathize with her and made her feel unrealistic. I kept hoping I'd learn something new about her and she'd start to feel more three-dimensional, but that never happened.
Like SIMON, UPSIDE is more than just a story. It's also chock full of amazing messages about growing up and letting go of fear. Growing apart from siblings is a theme that features prominently, and it is one that I connected to personally. Another great message talks about there not being an age where one has to meet certain "growing up" benchmarks (such as being in a romantic relationship). That's a message I want to see in more YA books, and I was a little disappointed because I felt like the rest of the story undermined it.
Unlike SIMON, UPSIDE leaned too heavily on getting its messages across that the story started to sag in places and left a number of threads underdeveloped. According to readinglength.com, UPSIDE is over 100K words long. I can't help but think that Becky Albertalli could have used that space to expand emotional impact of the story. I enjoyed every scene in UPSIDE, but many felt unnecessary to the messages or the plot.
UPSIDE's biggest problem isn't that it is a bad book--it's just that it isn't as good as SIMON. As I read it, I kept waiting for all the feels and geekiness and cuteness of SIMON to show up. And while some of that stuff was certainly present, it just wasn't as good as SIMON. I'll certainly pick up Becky Albertalli's next book. I just hope it's a little closer to SIMON than it is to UPSIDE.